Veendam Cruise Review by andyandsue: HAL Veendam July 2012 to Bermuda
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HAL Veendam July 2012 to Bermuda
-Embarkation was a breeze. You fill out health questionnaires, and begin the cattle-herding process. Suites had no wait. We were number 25 and we were on board by I think 11:30.
-When you walk on to the Veendam in NYC you are on the 5th deck. There is no fancy atrium or lobby so there is no "wow factor".
- We were on deck 5 and our room was ready.
- Aft location was convenient to back deck, nice aft view and very private. Also convenient to stairs to deck 6, for outdoor experiences.
- The room was clean enough. Nothing stood out as dirty or unacceptable.
- We ordered the HAL teddy bear for our daughter and the Veendam model for our son. Both items were in the room waiting, gift-wrapped with gift cards, which was a nice touch.
- The beds were great. No backaches, and soft sheets with lots of pillows.
- Plenty of closet space for 4, the closets can be configured in many different ways thanks to moveable shelves and bars. Don't miss the drawers under More the beds!
- The bunk hung over one side of the queen but it wasn't a big a deal since the room was a decent size. The sofabed was kept as a bed all week, so no sofa for us.
- They delivered children's life jackets to us before we left port.
- There were 2 robes which were very soft, as were the towels.
- Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and soap provided. The shower gel had a minty feel and scent which we all liked and thought felt good on a tired body at the end of the day.
- Room stewards were very nice and provided excellent service with a smile. They used our names and made sure we had everything we needed. Ice bucket always had ice, turn-down service always done. Towel animals and chocolates nightly.
- We had no real plumbing or A/C issues, but some did on the 5th and 6th deck as we heard them talking and saw the tell-tale drying fans out. Our toilet did not flush only once, the button did nothing. We called maintenance but it flushed on it's own before they arrived so we cancelled.
- A bathroom in the Lido Buffet was closed around the 3rd day, and had a fan for drying it out, which seemed gross so close to the food area.
- We noticed a sewage-like smell here and there in the halls, and in our bathroom as well. Turns out if they cleaned under the rim of the toilet, I think that smell, at least in our cabin, would be gone. I'll spare you the details.
- Lido embarkation lunch buffet was very good. Something for everyone, with nice views of NYC.
- Lido lines can be confusing. No obvious beginning of line or direction. Never had trouble finding a seat.
- Hand gel dispensers everywhere, hand washing machines fun and convenient. No pressure from staff to use either, but we did. We even saw the captain using the hand washing machine one day.
- Formal night in the Lido was non-existent. I felt overdressed in a simple maxi dress and my husband in a collared shirt. People were there in tank tops and flip flops and we actually saw that some kids were barefoot, so don't get too worried if formal night isn't your thing.
- The pool is freshwater, which was nice on the eyes instead of saltwater.
- The kids programs were only ok. We were told there were 300 kids on board for our cruise. My son is 13 so he could come and go without much structure. My daughter is almost 11 and had more fun in Club Hal, but the photo on line is deceiving; it's very small. The Oasis is for teens only but was always empty. The design was more for 'tweens, and they all wanted to go there which would have been great for them.
-The casino is small but fun. I played $20 in poker machines and slots, and won enough to give me hours of playing time. There were poker tournaments here and there and blackjack specials.
- The shopping on board is limited but it serves it's purpose if that is what you like. The usual perfumes, jewelry, alcohol, and limited other wares.
-Movie was fun in the theater. Free popcorn!
-Entertainment was average. That said, we are the NYC theater crowd so our standards are probably higher than most, so please take my opinions here with a grain of salt.
-The Bob Mackie show was too cheesy for me and I left. Sorry!
-We thought the comedian was average-funny. He made a joke about the Costa Concordia which we felt in poor taste.
-The magician was cute for the whole family. Adult jokes went over the kids heads.
-The piano bar singer was amazing. Worth checking him out one night.
-The string quartet was beautiful if you enjoy classical music (we do).
-The digital workshops are for novices, so we did not go but they had a lot to offer, especially if you want to learn about manipulating photos.
-The ship is small enough that you can find your way around, and it never felt crowded. Lines were small, hot tubs and chairs usually available.
-Food was very good to excellent all over the ship. Pizza was edible but not fabulous. Deck BBQ was great. Dessert Extravaganza fun but crowded.
-The elevators were fast and furious! There was not a lot of waiting around for them which was a pleasant surprise.
-The bow! You could go on the bow of the ship during sail-away. Go to deck 6 forward and there is an enclosed stairway to deck 7 that puts you in the area of the bow. If the doors are open, you are welcome on the bow.
-There was a narration upon leaving NYC and entering Bermuda. Both were enjoyable and different.
-Disembarkation was also a breeze
-We chose the later checkout 9:00-9:30, so had some Lido breakfast and made our way to our room for our last minute gathering of items.
- Room stewards, not ours, wanted to get in the room to strip the beds before our color/number was called, which was a bit inconvenient for us, as they left the bunk mattress on the queen bed, and the sofabed was taken apart so there was no place to sit.
- Our color/number was called. We were able to promptly leave, found our luggage and got through customs.
Here are the few things we did NOT like, most really are minor.
-Lido lines were confusing. Sometimes only one side was open, sometimes both sides.
-The aft deck big screen TV did not work, which was a big disappointment.
-The Lido had no bar, so you had to find a server for a bar drink.
-The aft pool deck bar had a problem with their cash register, so the drink cards would not work there.
-We had to see the nurse for a large band-aid for my son, and she wasn't very friendly, nor did she care why. I was not impressed.
-The Lido closed down by 8 pm, and no food really available other than room service from 8-11 pm, which seemed to be the time when my kids wanted to snack before bed.
-Room service was prompt (except during 8-11 pm, it took an hour for a plate of cookies and milk one night) with food good, but every time there was something wrong or missing from the order, not a big deal so we did not address it.
-2 of the 5 Microsoft Surface games in Mix were not working.
-The ship did rock and roll quite a bit more than the larger ships. It was only a problem for me though, since I am the only one who gets seasick. Medication was necessary for me on sea days. I found the mid-ship embarkation spot on 5 had couches and the atrium on 6 was a good spot too.
-The Oasis waterfall pool did not work.
-The HAL cats, the main band on the ship, sounded like a cheesy wedding band to us, and the music they played was for a much older crowd (we are 45 BTW).
-The basketball hoops/nets need replacing.
-The basketball and tennis courts were over the Lido Buffet and LOUD banging was constantly heard during meals, which we found especially annoying at dinner.
-There was a smell of varnish constantly during our stay, in different areas of the ship. Not sure what that was about.
-WiFi did not work in our room, or many other spots throughout the ship.
-The temperature was very inconsistent throughout the ship. As you walked through, one space freezing cold the next space very warm.
-Everything on the ship shuts down about 5-10 minutes prior to when they say it will. If the BBQ was from 5-7, expect it to be taken down by 6:55. If the pools close at 9:30, expect the nets out at 9:20. The dessert extravaganza was being put away at 9:55 as people were still trying to get a piece of whatever cakes they had, etc.
-The elevators do not make it clear what floor you are on. They are called names, but also have numbers, but the cabin numbers do not correspond. We kept having to look at the floor, then the map on the elevator wall.
-There is only one small pool so if you cruise in the summer months expect it to be filled with kids (300 kids on our cruise). Most kids, including mine, barely left it. Less
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